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Friday, September 14, 2012

SRU: The Map by Ellie Dauber

I think this is the first Ellie Dauber story I've put on here...shame it took me this long!


After those two grim stories about Mike and Marya, here's something a 
bit lighter.

SRU: The Map
By Ellie Dauber
Copyright 1999

“Fred, I think we’re lost.”  Almost as soon as Margie van Arndt said it, 
she was sorry.  Most men won’t admit that they’d messed up directions 
or misread a map, but Fred, well….

“I’m not lost,” he said through clenched teeth.  “This road is just the long 
way to Wheaton.  It’s such a nice day that I thought I’d --”

“Drive past that mall up ahead twice?  Look, Hon, there’s no shame in it.  
We haven’t been out this way in, what, five years.”  She was trying to 
give him an out.  “Not since that weekend when we were in college.”

“Maybe that’s it,” he said.  “We’ve passed through some construction 
that wasn’t on the map.  I guess I can hardly be blamed for those 

There had been no detours that Marge had seen.  But he wasn’t getting 
upset as he had a few weeks before, when he’d missed a cut-off, and 
they’d had to backtrack almost twenty miles after they caught the 
mistake.  Well, after she’d caught the mistake and managed to come up 
with a reason so he could admit it without losing face.  ‘What is it,’ she 
thought, ‘about guys and roads?  You’d think it was a test of manhood or 

She looked at her watch.  It was almost 1:30.  They’d left the apartment 
about 10 AM for a romantic weekend in the country.  If he’d been 
willing to let her navigate, they’d have gotten to the bed and breakfast 
already.  But no!  She was only a real estate broker, used to reading sub-
division maps and to checking out prospective properties all over the 
county.  He was a _Man_, with a man’s perfect sense of direction.

Well, other than this thing he had about directions and maps was his only 
really major flaw.  He was a pretty good guy, smart, considerate, with a 
great sense of humor.  And some of his other manly abilities – hey, that 
was the reason that’s she’d agreed to go to a _bed_ and breakfast.

“Are you hungry,” she asked.  “I haven’t eaten since about 8:30 this 
morning.  There’s bound to be a food court in a mall that size.  We can 
grab some lunch, and you can get a better map.”

“Sounds good,” he said, slowing the car as they got near the mall.  He 
hated to admit it, even to himself, but he had been lost.  Guys didn’t get 
lost.  It was in their blood from thousands of centuries of hunting for 
food, blazing trails, fighting wars.  Anyway, a mall that size should have 
a store that sold maps.  He’d check with a clerk, a _male_ clerk in the 
store, and get the directions he’d need.  They’d be at that b&b in time to 
work up an appetite for supper.  He smiled at the thought as he pulled 
into the mall parking lot.

Since it was early afternoon on a Saturday, the parking lot was fairly 
jammed.  Fred found a spot not too far from a side entrance to a lower 
level.  They’d probably have to walk a little to get to the food court, but 
there was no place to park within a good hundred yards of the main 
entrance.   At least this way, they’d walk inside an air-conditioned mall.  
‘Besides,’ Fred thought, “after driving for three hours, they needed a 
chance to stretch their legs.

They hurried past the stores without paying attention and took an 
escalator to the main level.  In ten minutes they were sitting at a table.  
Margie had chicken fried rice and a diet cola, while Fred was putting 
away a Big Mack, fries, and a vanilla shake.  There were maps of the 
mall posted at the entrances to the food court.  According to the one that 
they looked at, there was a news stand/bookstore not too far from where 
they came into the mall.  They could pick up a map without wasting any 
more time.

Except when they got to the spot where the Book Nook was supposed to 
be, it wasn’t.  “Fred, are you sure we came to the right spot?  Remember, 
we’ve never been in this mall before.”  A little salve to the ego never 

“Sure, I’m sure.  There’s the door we came through.  I think I can see my 
car from here.  Besides, I checked the map by the food court for other 
stores to use as landmarks.  There’s a Godiva’s Chocolates, and over 
there’s that new pet store franchise we heard about on the radio last 
week, Bertha’s Kitty Boutique.  Maybe the Book Nook moved.  Let’s 
ask inside.”

Marge looked at the store.  Most mall stores had open fronts, so you 
could walk right in.  This place had what looked like a wooden storefront 
and windows for heaven sakes.  Maybe this – she looked at the sign over 
the door again  --  Spells R Us would be able to help them.  With a name 
like that, they might even sell maps.

A small bell over the door rang as they came in.  Marge looked around.  
They probably did sell maps.  It looked like they sold everything else.  
There were shelves everywhere filled with all kinds of stuff: sunglasses, 
masks, brass bottles, and Barbie dolls.  And that was just on the first two 
selves near the door.  There was a rack of hardback books near one wall, 
a bunch of mannequins in costumes right next to it.

“Be right with you, Marge, Fred,” came a voice from the back of the 
store.  They looked in the direction of the voice just in time to see an old 
man come around from behind some shelves.  ‘He looks a little like a 
skinny Santa,’ Fred thought.  ‘Only he’s wearing a blue bathrobe instead 
of the red suit Santa always wears.’

“Actually, this time of year, Nick likes to wear Hawaiian shirts and 
jeans,” the old man said.

“Who,” Fred said.

“My old friend, Nick,” the old man said.  “St. Nick, to be formal, though 
he seldom uses the title.  Says it puts off too many of the kids.”  He 
wiped his hands on his robe.  “Anyway, what can I do for you, Fred?”

“How’d you know my name – our names?”

The old man pulled two business cards out of a pocket of his robe and 
handed them to Fred and Marge.

“So,” Fred said.  “Spells R’ Us.  What’s the name of the store got o do 
with anything?”

“Turn the card over,” the old man said with a smile.  He’d been wanting 
to try this new variation.

Fred turned the card over.  There was a short message neatly typed on 
the back.  “Because I’m a wizard, Fred.  Now please tell me what you 
want.”  Marge’s card had the same message, except with her name on it.

“Now _that_ is a trick!” Fred said.

The wizard smiled.  Some people never caught on.  “What can I do for 
you,” he asked.

“We were looking for the Book Nook,” Fred said.

“We need a local map,” Marge added.

“Mr. ‘I’m not lost, the road is lost’ can’t find his way to your b&b,” the 
Wizard said.

Marge snickered.

“Actually,” the Wizard said.  “It _is_ a little tricky with that new 

Marge groaned.  Another voice from the “Men’s Union.”  Can’t they 
ever admit that a guy can get lost?

  But you two do a lot of travelling, and anybody can get lost once in a 
while.  Except maybe me.  How about I sell you a magic map case?”  He 
rummaged through a pile of leather goods on a counter next to him and 
pulled out a zipper case the size of a notebook.  It was unzipped with a 
folded sheet of blank paper sticking out.  The Wizard pushed the paper 
inside and zipped the case shut.

“Yeah, magic,” Fred said.

“Oh, it is,” the Wizard said.  “You hold the case in your hands and think 
for a moment of where you want to go.  When you unzip the case, it will 
be holding a map that shows you exactly where you are at that moment 
and the fastest, most direct route to where you want to go.  You won’t 
have any problem finding your way.”

“How much?”

“For you, Fred, and this lovely young woman, $19.95.”

“And if it doesn’t work?”

“Try it out in the parking lot.  If it doesn’t work, bring it back, and I’ll 
give you a cash refund.”

“Fair enough,” Fred said.  He got out his wallet and handed the man a 

“I’m afraid that there’s another dollar, tax.”

Fred handed the man another dollar.  He took his nickel change and the 
map case and left the store.

Once they were in the car, Fred tried the map case.  He held it in his 
hands and said the name of their destination, “The Wayside Inn at 
Crabapple Cove.”   He thought he felt a tingling in his hands for a 
moment, but it went away too fast to be sure.

He unzipped the case and unfolded the map inside.  It had color printing 
on it now.  It was a state map.  Crabapple cove was circled in red with a 
notation next to it, “First right after the post office onto Haley road; 
then on for two miles to the Inn.”

Fred saw that the red color continued as a line back along the highway.  
He traced it back to another circle with a little note scrawled inside it 
marking the mall.  There was some additional writing as well.  He smiled 
noticing a misspelling.

Fred’s finger was touching the map, tracing the line along the highway.  
Suddenly, that finger, the entire hand, grew slimmer.  Fred’s nails grew 
out and changed color as a red polish appeared on them.  The 
transformation spread through his body.  His arms grew slender and 
hairless.  His body lost the masses of muscles gained from Fred’s twice a 
week visit to the local heath club.  A shape, no, two shapes grew out 
from his chest.  He looked in amazement as they grew out from his flat 
chest until they were as large as Marge’s own 36-Cs.

Fred felt a pressure as his waist grew smaller.  His hips and butt felt like 
they were inflating.  His legs grew slender curves to match his now 
female body.  A hand went down to touch the bulge at his crotch.  It was 
still there, but as he tried to grab it through his slacks, he felt it shrinking 
away.  Finally, there was nothing left.  Nothing but two very sensitive 
folds of skin on either side of what felt like an opening at his groin.

He felt his hair grow past his ears, past his neck, in great waves that 
didn’t stop until they were halfway down his back.  He couldn’t tell what 
he looked like, but he felt _something_.  He looked over to Marge, trying 
to understand.

“What happened to you, Fred.  Somehow, somehow, you’ve turned into 
a woman.  No, you’ve turned into me.  You look just like me.”

Fred grabbed the rear view mirror and looked into it.  It was true.  The 
face staring back out wasn’t his.  It was Marge’s.  Or maybe Marge’s 
twin, since the hair was longer and the make-up looked a bit different.  
Make-up?  Where the heck had that come from?

Suddenly, they both shook their heads in confusion as reality re-booted 
around them.

“Will you stop looking in the mirror,” Marge said.  “Your make-up is 

“Well, I was just checking after lunch,”  Frieda said to her twin sister.  
“I want to look perfect when we meet our boyfriends up at that bed and 
breakfast.”  She brushed an imaginary speck of dirt off her white blouse.

“Relax,” Marge said.  “Even stopping for lunch,  we’ll probably get there 
ahead of them.”

“You think that they’ll get lost again?”

“Probably.  And they won’t stop to ask directions since that would mean 
admitting that they’re lost.”

“What is it with guys and maps and directions?”

“I don’t know, but I don’t think that we girls will ever have that 

Frieda laughed as she took one last look at the map before she started the 
car.  The route was mapped out perfectly from this mall where they 
stopped for lunch.  It was just funny the way that nice old man who’d 
marked the way had made such a silly error when he circled the mall and 
wrote, “You Are Her.”

The End

Copyright, Ellie Dauber, 1999.  Free sites are welcome to post this.  Like 
Mindy, Jennifer, Robo, and Sapphire.


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